Five great Historical Fiction series
With the release of Bloodline, the third book in the brilliant War of the Roses series by Conn Iggulden, this month I thought what better time than to take a look at some other fantastic historical fiction for those looking to delve into the past.
Set in ninth century England the series protagonist is a young English boy, Uhtred, who is orphaned, captured and raised by Vikings. Years later when his Viking father is killed Uhtred has a sudden crisis of faith and must decide between the English and the Danes. Cornwell's mixing historical figures, including King Alfred the Great and the famous Viking warriors Ivar the Boneless and his brother Ubba, with fictional characters is seamless. It reads like some of the best history books with brutal battles, intriguing politics and religious differences. Uthred is a fascinating protagonist with his divided loyalties his story is one of nature versus nurture at its core but Cornwell makes it so much more than that, Uthred becomes a part of history with his desperate need to do what is right no matter the cost. The series is a fantastic read across all nine books, so far.
Originally published between 1955 and 1977 this series of the trials and tribulations of the French Monarchy of the 14th century of has only recently been fully translated from its original French. Beginning with King Philip the Fair and extending to the Hundred Years' War, the Accursed Kings series is a captivating look inside the French Monarchy and the lies, deception and betrayal that took place within the family. When King Philip the Fair persecutes the Knights Templar he brings a curse upon his family and this is the beginning of the end for them. More political intrigue than bloody battles, although it does have its share, this series is among the best historical novels and more historically accurate than you may expect.
Scarrow's longest running series, and arguably his best, the Eagles of the Empire follows two Roman soldiers through Germany, the second invasion of Britain and even into some of the Roman Empire's Eastern provinces. With 14 books in the series, so far, Scarrow has had time to work with his two main protagonists. In them has created more than just a pair of generic Roman soldiers; they are a diverse pair, a new recruit and veteran soldier, and their friendship is at the core of the series. It is what keeps you coming back for each new novel - that and the fantastic battles sequences. A gripping and thrilling read that shows the heart of the Roman Empire lies in its Centurions.
Less of an extensive series than the other books on this list but no less brilliantly written Hilary Mantel's story of Thomas Cromwell and his rise in the court of Henry VIII won the Man Booker Prize for fiction in 2009. The first of a trilogy, Wolf Hall is thoroughly researched and it shows but Mantel doesn't let it get bogged down in historical accuracy, she has a way with words that flow from one sentence to another. A compelling look into the Tudor court, Wolf Hall is full of the horror of the time but is also surprisingly funny.
Bloodline, released this month, is the third book in this stunning series by historical fiction royalty Conn Iggulden. Here Iggulden tells the epic story of King Henry VI and Richard, Duke of York, who believes he should be the ruling Monarch and begins a civil war to take Henry VI down. Superbly plotted and paced, Iggulden’s vast knowledge of the time and events shows but never slows down or interrupts the story at hand. His energetic writing and pitch perfect characterization of these historical figures provide some of the best reading of British history you will ever encounter.
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